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Does Bollywood no longer adore Amitabh?
A Special Correspondent | June 04, 2007 14:37 IST
Amitabh Bachchan [Images] looks awesome to most Indians because many people think he has done everything we can only dream of.
His ever-growing fame, his millions, his charming manner, the dignity in his voice, his family's culture, his penchant for big cars, the lows and highs of his success, some great roles he has brought alive on screen, the people's deep love for him and now, arguably the most beautiful Indian woman as his daughter-in-law.
What more can one man ask for in one lifetime?
But ask Karan Johar what he doesn't have.
The Hindi film industry's goodwill, alas, appears to be waning behind Mr Bachchan's back.
Hindi film folk are now divided when they discuss the Bachchans.
It is sad that away from the camera's gaze, his actions have isolated the icon.
The most successful actor in Hindi film history is said to have upset many stars who have achieved a lot more than his son Abhishek has so far.
Amitabh -- who surpasses his own standards in acting excellence in every new release of his -- is apparently someone some of Mumbai's top film stars now want to spurn if they can.
Shah Rukh Khan [Images], Hrithik Roshan [Images] and Saif Ali Khan [Images] are all said to have told Karan Johar that they won't accept a role in his proposed film starring Abhishek Bachchan [Images] and Aishwarya Rai [Images].
In the political arena, the Bachchans are being targeted by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati for siding with her arch-rivals Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh. The Congress party too is watching the Bachchans closely. Congressmen won't miss a chance to hit out at Amitabh Bachchan for supporting Sonia Gandhi's rivals.
Agreed that Amitabh Bachchan is an artiste and should be treated liberally, but some within the film industry apparently believe he has been a less of an artiste when either his or his son's interests are at stake.
Karan Johar knows how Amitabh Bachchan, the living legend, is getting isolated.
Karan is in awe of Amitabh Bachchan. He worships Mr Bachchan and grew up with Abhishek.
However, destiny gave Karan his first grand success when he and the irrepressible Shah Rukh Khan teamed up. The formidable combo have the high-voltage energy to succeed like few in the Hindi film industry can.
But cut the scene here!
The action has shifted elsewhere.
Karan likes the Bachchan family too.
At Abhishek's wedding Karan choreographed the Sangeet and cheered his childhood friend's beautiful bride Aishwarya.
Abhishek, Aishwarya, Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan danced on the eve of the wedding as of the night was never going to end.
The Wedding created the kind of hysteria rarely witnessed before in Mumbai. It is obvious that whoever casts Abhishek and Aishwarya in a film after their wedding will make box office history, whether the film is made or not, whether the film succeeds or not.
Karan wants to make a film with Abhishek and Aishwarya.
But some stars have problems with the Bachchans and don't want to work with Abhishek and Aishwarya.
As soon as Karan announced his desire to cast Aishwarya and Abhishek, his dearest buddy Shah Rukh Khan made it clear he would have nothing to do with his dearest friend's dream project. It will be the first Dharma Productions venture since Karan's directorial debut, Kuch Kuch Hota Hain (SRK [Images] also did Duplicate for Karan's dad Yash Johar before KKHH), that Shah Rukh won't have a role in. He did a song sequence in Kaal, the only recent Dharma film he didn't have a leading part in.
Karan knows you can't make a Hindi film on an island. You have to be a part of the industry.
When he turned to Saif Ali Khan after the Marriage, Saif refused. How could the Chhote Nawab forget that in spite of giving a fine performance in Kal Ho Naa Ho, Karan didn't feature him in Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna [Images], giving Abhishek a key role instead.
When Hrithik stole the thunder from Abhishek in Dhoom 2 [Images], it is said the latter's father was upset to read the negative reviews about his son's performance. Amitabh Bachchan also uncharacteristically pointed out in some television interviews early this year that Guru, starring his son, had made more money than Shah Rukh Khan's Don had. Few in Bollywood needed to connect the dots to know what he meant.
Amitabh Bachchan also challenged a news report that Hrithik -- and not he -- was the highest taxpayer in the Hindi film industry.
Hrithik too wouldn't want to work in Karan's film.
So, the director is stuck for now.
Amitabh Bachchan's comment -- that those who are upset they weren't invited to the Wedding are in any case not his friends -- has upset many in the Hindi film industry.
He also could not use the sacred occasion to mend his relations with Sonia Gandhi, with whom he and his family have been estranged for some years now.
Life can be lonely at the top, more so if you are alienated by your peer group.
Photograph: Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images